CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A big pandemic milestone for North Carolina is happening Friday. For the first time in a long time, bars and restaurants are getting ready to stay open later.
This comes after Gov. Roy Cooper announced a new executive order this week. The 10 p.m. curfew is no longer in effect, and bars and restaurants can now serve alcohol until 11 p.m. Bars are now also able to open with 30% capacity indoors, and restaurants can open with 50% capacity indoors.
Bar owners around Charlotte have been anxiously awaiting the new changes in the executive order. Ben Torres, the general manager of The Vintage Whiskey and Cigar Bar, says the end of the curfew and the extra two hours of alcohol sales makes a big difference when it comes to bringing in customers.
“We have a lot of people that truly enjoy going to dinner and then coming somewhere for a nightcap. They finish dinner by 7:30 or 8, right now we’re doing last call at 8:30 p.m., so that doesn’t give everyone enough time," Torres says. "So that will actually allow us to create an experience for that clientele that really is one of our target groups.”
Jody Sullivan, the owner of The Roxbury in Uptown, says it's now up to owners to enforce the rules so bars can continue to open at the same pace as other businesses.
“I think the places that pack people in, and did large DJ parties, large band parties, I think that hurts everyone. I think it hurt us getting open again," says Sullivan. "Now that we can operate safely. I think that’s going to help moving forward. At least having 30 percent now, and serving until 11, we can make that work temporarily. We hope right around the corner is going to be 50% for us just like it is for breweries and restaurant bars.”
Gov. Cooper is still reminding people to follow the three w's so coronavirus case numbers continue to drop across the state: wear your mask, wait six feet apart, and wash your hands.